The Undisputed Kings of College Chess

Published: May 30, 2003

A University That Knows How to Win


Members of UMBC Chess Team
Members of UMBC’s Chess Team and Advisor Alan Sherman (bottom row, left)

The Undisputed Kings of College Chess

UMBC has won titles at the “World Series, and the “Final Four” and has now completed the “Grand Slam” … of college chess that is.

UMBC’s chess team is well-known as one of the most powerful in the nation, as it has won six Pan American Intercollegiate Chess Championships (The World Series of College Chess) in the past seven years and, in early April, took its first-ever President’s Cup title (The Final Four of College Chess).  They completed their victory tour online by winning the National College Chess League’s online tournament, played over the Internet.

While the NCCL championship doesn’t have a snappy nickname of its own, it has a very special meaning to the UMBC team. They now hold all three major chess titles simultaneously — the Grand Slam of College Chess – a feat no other team has ever accomplished.

UMBC’s win at the President’s Cup effectively made them the undisputed champs of college chess, as they had been edged out in previous years by their rivals at the University of Texas, Dallas. This year was UMBC’s first time competing in the NCCL Championship.

UMBC’s success on the chess board has drawn attention to UMBC as a place with unbeatable brain power – an image backed up not only by their impressive wins by also by the soaring SAT scores of first-year students and the University’s federal research funding. UMBC’s reputation in chess, combined with its impressive academic record and scholarship opportunities has attracted some of the very best chess players from around the country and around the world.

The UMBC chess team has garnered attention from a host of national media outlets — from “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show” to CNN and National Public Radio. Why is chess such a big deal at UMBC? Perhaps the Baltimore Sun said it best in an April 8 editorial: “At UMBC, it’s cool to be smart, and the smartest students — even with names like ‘The Exterminator’ and ‘’The Maryland Mauler’ — are the heroes.”



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